MANILA — The number of drug suspects killed in the government’s controversial campaign against illegal drugs has reached more than 6,000, police data released Tuesday showed.
A total of 6,600 drug suspects died in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016, the start of the Duterte administration, to May 31, 2019, according to data presented in a command conference at the national police headquarters in Camp Crame Tuesday.
The figure is roughly half of estimates of human rights groups critical of the bloody campaign.
The 2018 World Report of New York-based Human Rights Watch pegged the number of deaths at some 12,000 drug suspects, including those slain by police and unknown assassins supposedly inspired by the anti-drug campaign.
Meanwhile, 240,565 were arrested, while 1,530,574 have appeared or surrendered during the same period in 153,276 police operations.
Police have also been relentless in its “Oplan Tokhang” operations, government’s knock-and-plead crackdown on drug suspects.
Under this campaign, police go house to house to “knock and plead” to drug suspects to surrender as a “practical and realistic means of accelerating the drive against illegal drugs in affected barangays.”
Police reported that 12,177 barangays have been declared “cleared” of illicit drugs out of 42,045. A total of 20,471 other barangays have yet to be cleared of narcotics, with still 282 are classified as “seriously” affected, mostly in Metro Manila.
“We are on track to significantly reduce, if not totally eliminate illegal drugs in the country. But more work needs to be done,” said Philippine National Police spokesperson Bernard Banac.
He added: “We need to strengthen the families so that children will be protected and taught well. We need the schools and churches to impart knowledge and instill values. We need the local governments and barangays to synchronize and synergize all our drug prevention acts together.”
President Rodrigo Duterte is facing cases before the International Criminal Court for alleged mass murders and human rights violations under the drug war. He has withdrawn the country from the treaty that created the ICC.
His anti-drug campaign has received international condemnation, but the administration has repeatedly defended it, saying government has nothing to do with summary executions and that those slain in police operations had violently resisted arrested.